You would expect this of a bible translator's office - a rolling cart full of biblical reference books and dictionaries.
Author and translator Philip Stine's office rolling cart contained the New International Version Bible, The Learning Bible, the Good News Bible, Good News for Modern Men, Harrap's Standard French/English Dictionary and more.
But the book Stine released this spring is all about only one of the tomes on his cart - the King James Version of the Bible.
Stine, who is also a contributing writer to WilmingtonFAVS.com, was commissioned to write "Four Hundred Years on the Best Seller List" by the American Bible Society as a way of "taking the original scholarly articles about the King James' influence and making it more for a wider audience," he said. The KJV turned 400 last year.
The 155-page book is a quick read charting the political and social history surrounding the King James translators and putting the most famous biblical translation into cultural context. Stine also highlights major political and social players at the time with text sidebars in the book.
He will have a book signing event 4–6 p.m. June 24 at Church of the Servant, 4925 Oriole Drive, next to College Park Elementary School.
We caught up with Stine recently to discover what surprised him most in his King James version research.
Q: So you've spent 30 years working with the United Bible Societies on translations. Were there any surprises for you in this book?
A: "We always think of the KJV as the golden era of English literature. Not true. The translators did not go to plays. They would have rather spoken Latin than English. Shakespeare was writing at the same time, and there's a good chance none of the King James writers went to any of Shakespeare's plays. Most English scholars would say that the most influential writings on the English language were the KJV and Shakespeare, but the writers didn't cross paths."
Q: Did you learn anything new about the use of thee and thou in the KJV?
A: "The translators were using old language. The giveth and the taketh had already passed out of the vernacular in Europe. The thees and thous were already out. You was already established. But they used the thee and thous because it showed complete intimacy."
Q: Did the King James translators erase references to the divine feminine during their translation process?
A: The image of God in the Old Testament is always God the father. The pronouns he or she don't exist in the Hebrew. But the way they interpreted the masculine in scripture, the word in Greek for deacon is in reference to a man, but when deacon is referring to a woman, the Greek means servant.
Q: Why do you think some streams of Christianity still use the KJV exclusively?
A: The preface of the KJV points out that they were only building on other translations and assumes more would come after. It became the one read in the church so it stuck. People like the sound of it, and, frankly, most revisions of it have not sounded as good. Christians in Jamaica and Liberia still use mainly the KJV. The Jamaicans rejected the Good News Bible. They wanted the Bible to have that mystical sound. I've seen Hindu politicians in India use King James-isms in their speeches, especially if they were educated in Anglican schools.